Home truths: Addressing Mrs Apoplectic's code
I'd only just met the lady but now she was going nuts.
Mrs Apoplectic had welcomed me into her home less than a minute earlier. But as we stood in her immaculate and expensive kitchen, she was raving and gesticulating madly. Sun-basted bingo wings resonated steady waves of fury as her manicured-digits stabbed the air in my direction to punctuate her diabribe. There were even threats to unleash an omnipotent golf-based social network upon my future prospects.
I had just arrived by appointment to visit Mrs Apoplectic's perfect home which was for sale. The intention was to write a report about it. All went swimmingly for the first 30 seconds until I mentioned that her agent had gotten her postcode wrong in the brochure and that we'd be required to use the correct version in our article. Mrs Apoplectic flipped at this suggestion and demanded we carry her more aspirationally substituted version. I suggested that An Post have the final say but it seems that in Mrs Apoplectic's address book, the national postal service knows nothing at all about post codes.
Later I contacted her estate agent - a gentleman of long standing and with a high reputation in the business. I expressed surprise that, given his local area knowledge, he did not realise that he had been advertising Mrs Apoplectic's house under the wrong postcode. He admitted that he was aware of the error but had gone along with it for the sake of peace.
But what about a buyer who takes a fake address at face value and loses thousands because of it?
Whatever the reason, address impersonation is wrong. Whether you do it because you believe the buyer should pay more, because the post code was unfairly changed or because you think your emissions fly more fragrantly than everyone else's. It's still wrong. And it has potential to cause monetary damages for unwary buyers.
Whether An Post likes it or not, postcodes and townlands remain the only viable reference terms that estate agents and buyers avail of to denote value of locale. When it comes to selling a home, address and postcodes and townlands are part of the product description. The reality is that some carry higher values than others and therefore it's important that the correct versions are used when selling.
While the vendor of a 1200cc car might believe their motor just as good as the 1500cc version, there's no excuse to cod prospective buyers that the car is 1500cc. not least because there are legal frameworks in place to counter this kind of fraud for every consumer product going - except property, the most costly product of all.
When I acquired my current house many years ago (it was new at the time), it was located in Dublin 6W in the final run of a three-phase scheme near the boundary with Dublin 12. Apparently the D6W postman had already complained about shouldering extra bags of letters for phases one and two and was reticent about taking on even more bags of letters for phase 3. The result was that the Post Office agreed with him and cut us off into Dublin 12 to divide the delivery role.
There's nothing wrong with D12 other than D12 is a less valuable postcode than D6W. The values of our homes plummeted straight away compared to the identical homes 50 metres away in D6W's phase two - by about €60,000.
Today if I want to sell my house I can't pretend I still live in 6W because I don't and more importantly, because of that proven €60,000 price difference.
Recently there has been a revival in post code and townland impersonation in Dublin. It's not happening because vendors are increasingly prepared to try it on (they always were) but because estate agents seem less prepared to tackle their vendors over it. It's also on the rise because it has become considerably more difficult to check a correct address in recent years.
While postcodes are instantly confirmable on An Post's online address register, the postal service began removing Dublin townlands from its checking service some time ago. I contacted them about it but they wouldn't tell me why. I can only assume it became too much of a headache for An Post to deal with the complaints which arose over incorrect and contested townland listings.
Amidst the resulting confusion and lack of a credible reference points left, I have recently observed a developer furnishing his new schemes with a wrong townland address. Things are getting bad if whole estates are being marketed under false pretences.
Despite the golden property purchasing rule of "caveat emptor" (let the buyer beware), I firmly believe that a vendor who unwittingly buys a home which is addressed incorrectly and suffers provable financial loss as a result, has good grounds to take legal action to recover the damages. Address value variations are provable today thanks to the property price register. Expect that test case any day soon.